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Canopy giants and miniature fungi among 250 new species discovered in Kew's 250th anniversary year
Date:12/22/2009

Hopper. Botanists are concerned that these exposed temporary rock pools known by the local Nama people as !gau are vulnerable to climate change which could mean the 5cm high plant's days are numbered. Urgent collection of spores and long-term storage in seed banks is an important next step to secure the conservation of this intriguing species. Quillworts date from fossils aged more than 150 million years old in an era before the evolution of flowering plants.

"To discover a completely new species in a small pool just 2m in diameter and 15cm deep was an unexpected delight. It highlights how much more work is needed to reveal the full diversity of the Cape's world-famous flora," says Professor Hopper.

Critically endangered 'cancer cure' yam Dioscorea strydomiana is a critically endangered species from South Africa with only two populations of about 200 plants known in the wild. It does not look like a typical yam it is shrub-like in appearance with a huge, slow growing, lumpy wooden tuber above the ground measuring up to 1m in height and diameter. The tuber sprouts multiple shoots each spring. The species is regarded as a cancer cure in the region where it grows and as a result is under threat from over-collection by medicinal plant collectors who cut pieces off the tubers. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's yam expert, Dr Paul Wilkin, describes this species as "the most unique and unusual yam I have come across, and probably the most threatened".

Indigos and relatives Fourteen species of the blue dye indigo producing genus Indigofera have been described as new to science in 2009. Few natural by-products have played as prominent a role in history and in international trade as indigo. It has been a valued dye from the earliest human civilizations because of its compatibility with all types of natural fibres and its ability to be combined with other natural dyes to create a range of colours not possible to produce with synthetic sub
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Contact: Bronwyn Friedlander
b.friedlander@kew.org
44-208-332-5607
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Source:Eurekalert

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